Flash is dead. Long live Flash!
October 9, 2020 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Just a nit, but the phase "The king is dead, long live the king!" refers to two different people: The king that just died, and the guy who gets to be kind because the old one just kicked the bucket. You title says there is new Flash that is taking the thrown from the original one, which is something that no one wants.

That said, as someone who became a web developer in 1999: good fucking riddance. We got some fun games out of it (and Radiskull!), but I am not sad to see it go after all my personal misery.
posted by sideshow at 5:14 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]

Oh man what was that flash page that was just a simple pulsating flash graphic and had the voiceover "I am zorbo" or something to that effect. It had to be early 00s or late 90s.
posted by geoff. at 5:18 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]

posted by Aznable at 5:32 PM on October 9 [7 favorites]

YouTube would never have been a thing without Flash.

Today, Flash is an anachronism but in its time it made interactive multimedia on the web possible. It pointed the way for HTML 5.

Nobody ever acknowledges the labor the Flash team (and others) put into securing the platform in the many years it was slated for obsolescence. The efforts were significant and sincere.

Flash had a bit of a split personality since it was simultaneously a content format and an app platform. Nobody can say they didn’t have time to migrate their apps, but there’s a lot of content that will pretty much go down the memory hole. That’s a real shame.
posted by sjswitzer at 6:18 PM on October 9 [15 favorites]

That was a fun, visually interesting article. I had no idea there were so many early Flash games based on kissing, killing, torturing, or otherwise do something to a celebrity. I remember Don't Shit Your Pants coming out around the time my now-wife and I were teaching English 101 as grad students, and we got some grim amusement wondering how some of our students ever made it through the real-life version. I don't see my favorite Flash game, Don't Touch My Gems, but now that I'm thinking about it maybe I ought to play it again this weekend while I still can. Thanks for posting!
posted by DingoMutt at 8:57 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]

Flash was both such a giant steaming mess and such a beautiful thing.

Adobe bought Macromedia to get Flash and nobody there really had a damn idea what to do with it; they decided to try and turn it into a write-once-run-everywhere thing like Java, and in the process they made Actionscript 3 into a strongly typed language that was probably a lot nicer for wrangling huge projects with multiple source files, but was a royal goddamn pain in the ass for people who weren't full-time programmers to write, and was a lot more aggressively separated from the visual objects you'd create. I hated it, I'm honestly not sure if anyone really loved it.?
I did both animation and programming in it for a while when I was passing through the Hollywood animation scene. I wouldn't go back to that but it's still what I reach for on the rare occasions I need to make some drawings move - or rather its current incarnation as "Animate" - instead of trying to learn the aggressively indirect interface of After Effects. It's easy to just make some rough sketches and get them moving around, y'know?
posted by egypturnash at 9:30 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]

Flash has been on death row for the past decade awaiting its execution - - it actually received it's death sentence on April 29, 2010.
posted by fairmettle at 11:29 PM on October 9

As one who has been on Fantastic Contraption since a post here in 2008, I am wondering what's going to happen. Will browsers no longer run Flash next year? Would I be able to run it on an old browser? Will it just be 'no longer supported'?
posted by MtDewd at 6:31 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Every browser you'd want to touch the internet with won't support it by the end of the year. Sorry, but enjoy your last few weeks of Fantastic Contraption, MtDewd. If the servers stay up (assuming FC uses one) you'll have to adopt a retro-gamer's obsessive vigilance on an unpatched system, probably running in a VM somewhere.

. to the countless hours I spent playing MiniPutt, Yeti Sports, Canabalt and N. Did I waste them? Depends who is asking.
posted by scruss at 9:00 AM on October 10

posted by loquacious at 9:03 AM on October 10 [6 favorites]

Flash, for all its flaws, really did remake the internet. You could do things in a browser and not have to load a separate program to do it. No more downloading Realplayer or Quicktime links to watch a short video alone made it feel like the future. No more downloading a weird .exe file to play a casual game. It could all be done in the browser. HTML caught up and rendered it unnecessary but for its time it was huge. It reminds me of when I first saw anything moving on the internet. I had AOL and they updated the browser and suddenly I saw an animated gif of the 7-Up spot dancing back and forth. I had no idea that was possible back then. But it showed me that webpages could be more than just static text with links. Flash was the same innovation.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:50 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

"Won't support" and will run through an extension or some sort of HTML5 Canvas/JS transpiling are different things, the end result being Flash won't just disappear. I know some large corporations like SAP invested in Flash for training and I'm guessing for some UI things as an alternative to Java or whatever monstrosity would require me in 2007 to still run specific IE versions.

End of Life makes it really easy for anyone dealing with a partner or client or even internally who still has Flash can say, "No longer is it not supported, but the EOL has expired. You need to come up with a different solution."
posted by geoff. at 12:59 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

There are a ton of previouslies on the flash tag, including this one about the efforts of a team to archive a bunch of flash games and content, and there are a few projects like Ruffle and CheerpX that have the goal of emulating Flash Player using modern web standards (WebAssembly, specifically). So while I don't expect it to be popular for new things, there are definitely going to be options out there to keep at least some of it alive.
posted by Aleyn at 1:31 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

I was just reflecting on how many websites in the 2000s had entirely flash based interfaces. Often with really overwrought animations, page transition effects, subtle(or...not) animated backgrounds, and even sound effects when you mouseovered or clicked things. This, at the time, was very often regarded as crappy/tasteless/etc and correctly chided on not scaling at all with resolution changes. In fact, they often looked comically small on a higher res monitor.

What i'm getting at is... what happens to these sites? Archive.org seems to have failed a lot of them(and not just for domain resale/robots.txt reasons). I feel like thats a super memorable era of the internet, right up there with myspace teaching everyone web design and that vein of maximalism. Like, that should really be preserved honestly. At most, a few seem to exist on youtube or something.

And honestly, that might be the best format. Just a few screenshots and a decent quality/resolution summary video that shows animations/sounds.

Thinking about this really makes me dwell on the absolute impermanence of the internet, honestly.
posted by emptythought at 4:37 AM on October 12

My home music player is based on flash, and still 10000000000 times better than Itunes or spotify or whatever. I've been preparing for this day sort of, looking for alternative, but will hold on to an old version of IE or whatever to continue to support it.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:18 AM on October 12

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